Nate had to set things right. If he’d still had a body he would have paced the floor as the news anchor on the television detailed his sins. Of course, he wasn’t entirely responsible. He, like Harry, was just an instrument of Charlie Bell’s revenge, but he was culpable none the less.
Desperate men do desperate things and dying men make rash decisions. Charlie had pegged them both. Harry had been desperate and Nate had been dying. Charlie’s plan had been simple – if you believed in the paranormal and the supernatural.
Harry had listened to his old friend for a while with a bemused expression on his face before interrupting. “You spent too much time in the joint, Charlie. You’ve gone just a little cuckoo.”
They were sitting in the living room of the house Charlie and Nate shared. The room was a mess. Before Nate had gotten sick he’d kept the house looking real nice. But in recent weeks he barely had the energy to get to the toilet to vomit. The effects of the chemo were worse this time around and it was having no effect on the aggressive disease that was ravaging his once strong body. He’d finally had to level with Harry. His brother had taken it pretty hard, even blaming himself for Nate’s cancer. “It’s from all the stress I put you through – abandoning you and Papa, getting locked up, leaving you to look out for things.” Nate had tried to assure him that was absurd but Harry still carried the guilt around like a dead moose.
Now as he rested on the couch listening to Charlie’s proposition something in his brain whispered what if the son of a bitch is telling the truth? Maybe it was all those years writing fantasy and science fiction. Maybe it was all those flights of imagination he’d taken…or maybe it was just the drugs, but Charlie was starting to make sense.
Charlie sat with the little HP Mini in his lap. His big hands dwarfed the little laptop. He began by relating the account of his transplant. “Of course, when I began writing that story it was just to take my mind of dying. Sorry, Nate. But it happened just as I wrote it. I’m alive today because of it.”
Harry had looked unconvinced but Charlie continued. “I tried other experiments – simple stuff – baseball scores, lottery numbers. I’m the one who’s responsible for the Steelers signing that quarterback from Arkansas.”
“When did you decide to turn this golden goose into a revenge machine?” Nate didn’t like Charlie but he wasn’t ready to dismiss his claim – yet.
“You’d do the same thing if you could, Nate. If you had a chance to get even with all the bastards who had made a shambles of your life, destroyed your family, and robbed you of your future – wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you want to punish the cities that had scorned you?”
Nate had to admit that he would. Revenge could be an irresistible drug. If Charlie had been set up like he claimed he’d been, who couldn’t blame him for wanting a chance to get even.
Charlie laid out his plan – in detail. He’d begin by typing the entire plot into his magic laptop. Once the file was saved they would just wait for the events to unfold. The idea of having Nate as the guardian angel of his design but it made sense. “Nate, you’re dying anyway. This way your brother can profit from it – profit to the tune of five million dollars – and you can have a little fun on your way out.”
He explained how Nate would commit suicide in front of Sasha Carpenter and how he would keep tabs on her by possessing her. The idea was for Nate’s spirit to guide Sasha’s actions from the other side without drawing anyone’s attention. All Harry had to do was keep an eye on things and make regular reports to Charlie. He didn’t mention that Harry would also be planting a few bombs.
Nate was intrigued but he didn’t want Charlie to know it. “Even if I buy that you can control the outcome of baseball games and drafts, how do you know you can control things beyond the grave? How can you be sure that damn thing can control life and death?”
“Suppose I give you boys a little demonstration?” He opened the lap top and began typing. The size of his fingers made it tedious but slowly the story appeared on the screen:
Nathan Anderson, Sr. had been dead for more than three years. He was making old bones in Glenwood Cemetery where he’d been laid to rest next to his first wife Louise. But while Nathan’s body was dead and decomposing, his spirit was busy in the physical world. He kept and eye on his sons Henry and Nathan, Jr. He didn’t want to be too obvious so his actions were subtle. One day – just before his son Nate was about to join him on the other side he made his presence known in a very trivial but incontrovertible manner. As Nate sat in the living room of the family home with his brother and an acquaintance Nathan ‘whispered’ in his son’s ear: ‘Nate, my boy. I left a hundred dollar bill in that biography of HG Wells that you gave me for my birthday. It is between pages 48 and 49. The book is still on the top shelf of the bookcase in my old room.’ “
Charlie stopped typing. “Do you want to see what I’ve written, Nate?”
Nate didn’t have to look at the screen. He knew. He’d heard his father’s voice as clearly as if he’d been in the room with him.
“Well, Nate. What are you waiting for?”
Nate wasn’t sure what he was feeling as he lifted himself from the couch and made his way with some effort into his father’s old room. Less than a minute later he’d returned with a hundred dollar bill in his hand.